Recently Seth Emerson of Macon.com made this post on "Energy Vampires", which is an idea spurned from the book The Energy Bus that Coach Richt used this year as a motivational tactic by handing the book to every team member to read. It's the newest version of "Finish the Drill." T Kyle King also made a post on DawgSports.com referencing "Energy Vampires" that will link you this post by SB Nation's Jason Kirk that references The Energy Bus and its 10 rules listed from Amazon.com. Heck even SB Nations's Every Day Should Be Saturday took a humorous shot at the now infamous Energy Vampires! However you cut it, Energy Vampires are everywhere!
The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon is about the power of using positive energy in your thoughts, processes and interaction with people in order to achieve a better, more positive outcome. With no disrepect to this author or the book, the book The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale, first came to mind when I began to read quotes and highlights from this book before purchasing. In some ways, it's a simplier version of similar ideas: Positive Mental Attitutude (PMA) will achieve better results in all areas of your life.
However, I think I know why Coach Richt latched onto this slightly simplier version than other similar books: "The Bus" is a team. A team of positive thinkers. If you aren't a positive part of the team, you may be shown the door of the bus. The book uses a story line of a man catching a bus and the bus driver (easily a God like symbol) helps the main character change his negative thinking to a positive one to help himself, his family, and his team at work. The book has 10 tenents of positive thinking you can look at through the links or on amazon.
So what about these darn Energy Vampires we keep talking about? Well, that's Chapter 18 "No Energy Vampires on the bus." I think I can sum up Coach's Richt's "Energy Vampire" board as a tool of motivation with a nice big block quote from the book:
Your success and life are so important that you must surround yourself with a positive support team. No one creates success in a vacuum and the people we surround ourselves with have a big influence on the life and sucess we create......After all there are people who increase your energy and there are people who decrease your energy. I call the people who drain your energy Energy Vampires and they will suck the life out of you and your goals and vision if you let them.
Ealey came to mind with this idea. Just like the book discusses, Coach Richt sat him down and said, "Hey, we want you on the team, but you got to have a better attitude, you got to do it our way." Ealey didn't, so Coach Richt said, "No hate, but it's time for you to move on." To take a quote from The Energy Bus "You got to be strong enough to tell people that you will not allow any negativity on your bus."
This sounds like a multi-prong approach that fits Coach Richt well. He is teaching these young men a life lesson about good ideas they can take with them forever, he has a tool he can reference on and off the field, and he is fostering the biggest thing we have been missing, namely, teamwork. The term "The Georgia Way" has come out since Jan 2011, and it appears the quote about energy vampires is the definition of what the "Georgia Way" is about. There is an obvious correlation.
Always remember that you are the driver of your bus. It's the most important of the rules because if you don't take responsibility for your life and control of your bus then you cant't take it where you want to go.
Can we say less off field problems anyone?
The book goes onto to describe what could easily be summed up as "love thy neighbor." Bring your loving heart into your work, be passionate and caring. It also talks about being in the present, another piece of the puzzle the Bulldogs have been missing.
Do not focus on the future because the future brings only what the present gives it. Rather...focus on the path. Keep your head up and your heart full of joy.
Ultimately, The Energy Bus is a fairly straight forward and easy read. Coach Richt didn't task out his team with Tolstoy. He gave them a read on some simple, yet very important life lessons about positive energy and is using those tools to influence how things are handled off the field or during practice. As Georgia fans steeped in the tradition of Coach Dooley's "I ain't even sure Johnny has shoes to play in yet" and Larry Munson's telling us how close a game was when we were up by 3 TDs in the 4 the quarter, we have a legacy of pessimism that other fan bases probably don't quite understand. Combine that with the fact we have one modern age National Championship despite all kinds of talent, great coaches, tons of money, an amazing arena and top facilities, can tend to breed negativity. Coach Richt seems to want to change that approach to one that is positive, upbeat, filled with solid expectations while giving the players the tools to accomplish it. And it seems to have an impact, because in the words of senior defensive end DeAngelo Tyson about being on the Energy Vampire board:
"I don't want to and I don't plan on it," Tyson said, smiling. "It's just been a couple people so far. If you miss something, or you make a bad play in practice, then that's an energy vampire. It's nothing too serious. But it's something you don't want to have to do or get on the board."
One criticism of Coach Richt is he is slow to change. However, you have to remember this: it maybe slow, but when it happens, he hits the 1st and ten bomb TD, and it has a lasting impact not just on the W-L ledger, but on the future of many young men's lives as well. It's clear that Coach Richt has recognized that the problem is not how much the players bench press, or what their 40 times are, but what is between their ears that has been the problem. Nowadays, if you want to be a Georgia Bulldog, you better get on the Energy Bus, otherwise, you're going to be looking at its tail lights.